The holiday season officially arrives with the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Center City spectacle on Thursday, November 27.
The 1.4-mile 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade starts at 8:30 a.m. and continues all morning long until noon. Folks of all ages are encouraged to bundle up and celebrate the start of the season at the very merry parade.
Read on for our full guide to this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The parade serves as the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season and is the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country — this year marks the parade’s 95th anniversary.
The Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at 8:30 a.m. and continues until noon as the streets of downtown Philadelphia welcome massive balloons, festive floats, music, performances, visits from Santa and more.
• The parade starts at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard at 8:30 a.m.
• From there, the parade travels east on JFK Boulevard toward 16th Street.
• The Parade turns left onto 16th Street, marching towards Arch Street and making a left onto the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
• The Parade continues on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway until reaching Logan Circle.
• The Parade loops around the south side of Logan Circle and then continues on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Eakins Oval.
• The Parade proceeds along the south side of The Oval finishing in front of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Best Places To Watch
There are a ton of great vantage points throughout the parade’s footprint, but a number of spots in particular are ideal locations to catch the action.
• Art Museum Steps: Perhaps the best place to catch the show is at the parade’s finish point at the Art Museum steps.
• Love Park: As the parade loops east from its start at 20th and JFK, Love Park will give you a great view of the floats and characters, especially if you situate yourself on an elevated portion of the park above the fountain.
• Outside The Comcast Center Along JFK Boulevard: The parade starts out on JFK Boulevard, which makes the Comcast Center a great spot to catch the parade early on. After the parade passes, duck inside to celebrate opening day of the Comcast Holiday Spectacular.
• The Oval: The south side of The Oval (in front of the Art Museum) is also recommended. Campbell’s Soup is set to sponsor a tent which promises hot food, warm drinks and entertainment for kids.
• Sister Cities Park: Sister Cities Park is home to great views of the parade in addition to ample green space and benches.
• Barnes Foundation: Take advantage of the lovely courtyard outside the Barnes Foundation for a place to catch the parade action.
• The Franklin Institute: The grand steps of The Franklin Institute and the sidewalk down below it will be perfect parade-watching vantage points.
• Embassy Suites Philadelphia: Located seven blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art straight down the Parkway, the Embassy Suites hotel offers a fantastic view of the fireworks.
• Benjamin Franklin Parkway: Anywhere along the Parkway will afford you up-close views of the parade. Get there early to reserve a spot!
For an interactive map of the top viewing locations, see below or check right here.
Floats, Balloons and Special Guests
The eye-catching highlight of the Thanksgiving Day Parade are the festive floats and massive balloons. The floats come in all shapes and sizes including the patriotic Dunkin’ Donuts opening float, the Campbell’s Thanksgiving Harvest float, Verizon’s colorful Under the Sea float and, of course, a special visit from Santa.
On the balloon side, families can expect Frosty the Snowman, Mr. Potato Head, My Little Pony, Clifford the Big Red Dog, beloved Dr. Seuss characters including the Cat in the Hat, Horton, the Lorax and the Grinch and many more.
The annual parade feature appearances special guests and performers from around the region and beyond. Join the cast of Mary Poppins from the Walnut Street Theatre, Anna and Elsa from Disney on Ice presents Frozen, former N’Sync member Lance Bass, Miss America 2015, Ginger Zee from Good Morning America and many more during the Thanksgiving Day celebration.
Audiences can enjoy performances from local choirs, recording artists, dance groups and more.
Thanksgiving Day Zone at The Oval
The Oval, a seasonal pop-up park at Eakins Oval, will be hosting the first 6ABC Thanksgiving Day Zone featuring live music, warm beverages and family fun from 8:30 a.m. until noon.
Enjoy a hot cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or take part in family-friendly activities in the Kids Zone. Local food trucks will be on site for tasty eats while the Philadelphia Zoo will be bringing a few furry friends for a meet-and-greet on The Oval.
Photo Preview: Top Reasons You Need To See The Parade In Person
Check out visitphilly.com’s impressive sneak peek of the parade experience — it shows off how awesome seeing the parade in person is. CLICK HERE
Getting There, Staying Over And Other Thanksgiving Day Attractions
Stay downtown on Wednesday night so you can wake up and be right next to the parade. Hotel rates at Center City hotels start at just $99 on Wednesday night and $89 on Thursday night.
For a deal on two consecutive nights, book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package which includes two nights accommodations and free parking for your car. Click here to check rates at participating hotels.
For those who don’t live within walking distance of the parade route, bear in mind that parking in the city is free on Thanksgiving, and SEPTA will be running. The parade route is easily accessible from the City Hall subway stop, Suburban Station Train Station and a number of bus stops throughout the city.
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular opens for the season on Thanksgiving Day and will welcome guests in for free holiday fun from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Shoppers take note, Christmas Village at Love Park also debuts with a preview day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park invites city dwellers in for an afternoon ice skate as it promises Thanksgiving Day hours from 1 to 6 p.m.
The 2014 Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade
When: Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, begins at 8:30 a.m and ends around noon
Where: Begins at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard and ends at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
More info: www.abclocal.go.com
View Where to Watch the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade in a larger map